In January 1794 the French 'Army of Italy' was commanded by General Dumerbion and he acknowledged a great debt to his 25-year-old commander of artillery - Napoleon Bonaparte. The French Revolution had resulted in major changes in the military system, conscription created a national army and new tactics and initiatives allowed an officer of such promise as Napoleon to rise quickly through the ranks. By 1796 he was the general commanding the French in Italy and at the conclusion of fourteen months campaigning he was the decisive military personality of his age. Philip Haythornthwaite examines Napoleon's campaigns in Italy, and the uniforms of his soldiers are illustrated in eight colour plates by Richard Hook.
During the Napoleonic Wars the supreme battlefield shock weapon was the heavy cavalry - the French cuirassiers, and their British, Austrian, Prussian and Russian counterparts. Big men mounted on big horses, the heavy cavalry were armed with swords nearly a metre long, used for slashing or thrusting at their opponents; many wore steel armour, a…
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